Billboards that secretly film you

A brave new world of marketing uses image-recognition technology and minicams to tailor public ads to the viewer.

Reported two days ago on CNET:

[Entrepreneurs] are equipping billboards with tiny cameras that gather details about passers-by--their gender, approximate age, and how long they looked at the billboard. These details are transmitted to a central database [... ] The goal, these companies say, is to tailor a digital display to the person standing in front of it--to show one advertisement to a middle-aged white woman, for example, and a different one to a teenage Asian boy.

Paolo Prandoni, the founder of the company offering this technology, is assuring the public that the imaging is all done anonymously. But concern about the secret use of cameras continues to grow.

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Comments on the article “Billboards that secretly film you”

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Anonymous

That actually reminds me of Minority Report (yes, I know, not that great a movie), in the scene where the main character (forgotten the name now) is buying clothes for Agatha. On a more serious note, do we have any legal guarantee the information is anonymous? What about where the information goes - is it secure? Will the database store our information for a set time, or indefinitely? What about if the police want to use a billboard's images in a case? Then what? It's a fine line they're treading. In some ways it can be an invasion of privacy, and in other ways it can be a security measure - but to me, it's just invasive marketing. As if we don't have enough of it with pop-up ads, banners that either cover a web page or make it difficult to read, posters, pre-movie advertising, spam email, those annoying stands in shopping centres and commerical breaks on television.

Anonymous

That actually reminds me of Minority Report (yes, I know, not that great a movie), in the scene where the main character (forgotten the name now) is buying clothes for Agatha. On a more serious note, do we have any legal guarantee the information is anonymous? What about where the information goes - is it secure? Will the database store our information for a set time, or indefinitely? What about if the police want to use a billboard's images in a case? Then what? It's a fine line they're treading. In some ways it can be an invasion of privacy, and in other ways it can be a security measure - but to me, it's just invasive marketing. As if we don't have enough of it with pop-up ads, banners that either cover a web page or make it difficult to read, posters, pre-movie advertising, spam email, those annoying stands in shopping centres and commerical breaks on television.

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